The Labyrinth of Genre

I’m fascinated with how music genres relate to each other, especially how one can use different genres as stepping stones as a guide through the vast complexities of music.   There are thousands of genres, some like rock or pop represent thousands of artists, while some like Celtic Metal or Humppa may represent only a handful of artists.   Building a map by hand that represents the relationships of all of these genres is a challenge.  Is Thrash Metal more closely related to Speed Metal or to Power Metal?  To sort this all out I’ve built a Labyrinth of Genre that lets you explore the many genres.  The Labyrinth lets you wander though about a 1000 genres, listening to samples from representative artists.

The Labyrinth of Genre

Click on a genre and  the labyrinth will be expanded to show similar half a dozen similar genres and you’ll hear songs in the genre.

I built the labyrinth by analyzing a large collection of last.fm tags.  I used the cosine distance of  tf-idf weighted tagged artists as a distance metric for tags. When you click on a node, I attach the six closest tags that haven’t already been attached to the graph. I then use the Echo Nest APIs to get all the media.

Even though it’s a pretty simple algorithm, it is quite effective in grouping similar genre. If you are interested in wandering around a maze of music, give the Labyrinth of Genre a try.

  1. #1 by Jesper on January 17, 2011 - 12:43 am

    Nice. With the last.fm artist tags you can calculate artist similarity, and also cluster artists into genres. But where did the list of 1000 genre labels come from – they are not last.fm tags, right?

  2. #2 by Paul on January 17, 2011 - 8:48 am

    Jesper – I built a tag filter by taking the top 2000 last.fm tags and manually eliminating non-genre tags.

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